Friday, April 06, 2007

Bookselling Tales-

We met in neutral territory- at one of those Swiss hotels up the side of a mountain- you know the kind. You look down and see cars below you the size of dust specks, and the rising moon seems to be coming in at shoulder level. I don't like heights, so I was at the bar downing Saphire gin and nibbling at the cheese plate they had put out just to make me thirsty.

She caught my eye from across the room- brown hair down to her waist and a shape that her low-cut, body-hugging black dress didn't try to hide.

She raised an eyebrow and I raised my glass and the next thing I knew she was sitting beside me, ordering Stoli and downing the first one in a single gulp. She ordered another and then turned to me.

"Did you bring it?" she asked, her voice deep, but tinged with silver, like the swiftly flowing streams in the mountains around there.

"Right here" I said, patting my coat pocket.

She nodded.

"All of it" she said. Not a question really.

"All of it" I said, sipping my Saphire, trying to keep my mind on my mission and off her figure which perched on the barstool in perfect balance, like something drawn by Picasso.

"Good". She gave me a quick smile. "I have to go, I have another delivery to make". She was apologizing, but women like her should never have to apologize. For anything. I took the envelope of cash from my pocket and handed it to her.

She tucked it into the fold of her dress without looking at it.

"Merci" she said and drained the last of her Stoli. "Perhaps we will meet again". She uncurled herself from her perch on the stool and stood still for a moment as if trying to make up her mind about something.

"I have to go" she said, as if trying to convince herself, not me, of the fact. "After I'm gone, go over to the table".

I nodded and she was gone.

I sat there for a moment, then ordered another Saphire and drank it slowly. Then I got up and crossed the room. It was there, on the chair, wrapped in brown paper, tied with string.

A nice touch.

Smuggling it out past customs was a breeze.

After her, everything else was anticlimactic.

I kept that book for a few years, but then decided to sell it.

I'm a bookseller.

That's my job.


Joey Polanski said...

How many diffrent guys have playd you so far?

Lynn Wienck said...

Give the man a cigar. He can write. Thanks for an entertaining story.

jgodsey said...

GREAT! love to see classic stuff reappear!

catalyst said...

Aww, you sentimental old cuss.

Colonel Colonel said...

Joey- I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Lynn- welcome, and thanks!

Gods- Thanks! -every once in a while I dust this and a few other things off for some venue they haven't been seen in yet.

Catalyst- Yes, we'll never see The Olde Dayes of Bookselling again. Sigh...

Cissy Strutt said...

I worked yesterday at a friend's bookstore to help out (I'm supposed to be writing an opera). Within the first hour, I was confronted with the well-remembered Book Buyer Type #4 - "Do you have anything else?"

BBT#4: I need a cookbook of simple Chinese cooking.
Me: This is great "Kylie Kwong's Simple Chinese Cooking."
BBT#4: Do you have anything else?

Colonel Colonel said...

Cissy- ah yes, bookstore stories. My favorite encounters were always with people you would suppose would have been pleasantly surprised-

"I'm sure nobody has ever written a book about it, but do you have anything on left-handed corkscrews made between 1850 and 1900 by Tiffany?"

"Well yes, we have this book titled "Tiffany left-handed corkscrews: 1850 to 1900". It's 300 pages, filled with color photos, and on special this week for just $9.95!"

"oh" (disappointed- takes book hesitantly, flips through it, being polite, hands it back.)

"Well, thank you very much".


Writing an opera? The score or music, or both?

Cissy Strutt said...

Customer (clasping book with joy): Oh!! I've been looking for this for AGES. (Puts book back, leaves store).

Customer: Could you reccommend a book for my brother-in-law. He's a man.

I'm writing the libretto. But it was all my idea. Mine, I tell you, mine.